After a long preseason that included two full weeks of two-a-day practices followed by a week of afternoon single sessions, the Yellowjackets are looking forward to their first official game week of preparation before Friday’s opener against Glasgow High School.
Newark is coming off its third and final scrimmage against a Tower Hill team that finished 8-3 last season and made it to the second round of the Division II playoffs.
“The Tower Hill scrimmage was another step forward for us,” head coach Jody Russell said. “Offensively, we ran the ball more efficiently. Defensively, we stifled the Tower run game, which is normally pretty stout.”
Both were goals heading into the scrimmage. Russell also pointed out that senior Corey Geerlof punted well.
With preseason practice officially over, Russell is confident heading into his first game as the head coach at his alma mater.
“I feel like we are right on track going into the Glasgow game,” he said. “They are a formidable opponent. They are athletic and well coached. We need to continue our improvement from the past three weeks.”
There are no significant injuries to report and several players with minor setbacks have returned to full action.
“The single sessions have gotten some of the players with nagging injuries able to come back,” Russell said.
Players voted for captains last week and all four are seniors: Alex Aviles, Don Burton, Mele Stallings and Jason Mitchell-Dickerson.
The captain says
“At this point I feel like we are ready for anything Glasgow throws at us,” said Burton, who has served as a captain since his sophomore year. “I feel like we are all mentally ready. We built a bond with the new coaching staff and we trust and believe in their system and I believe we will come out victorious Friday night.”
Special practice guest
Former head coach Butch Simpson will be attending practice this week, according to Russell. Simpson, who now resides in Florida, is in town to attend Friday night’s game when the Yellowjackets will officially name the field in his honor.
“It's a unique situation that the kids that I coach don't know the coach that they are honoring,” Russell explained of his former coach’s presence at practice. “Tradition is very important to this program and this community.”
Game week outlook
The Yellowjackets will hold a voluntary practice on Labor Day focusing on the offensive side of the ball. Tuesday is a defensive focus, and Wednesday is a combination of the two. Thursday is a walk-through, which is a standard routine the day before a game for the majority of high school teams across the state.
On Friday, players and coaches will remain on campus after school, eat together as a team and have a walk-through before gathering in and around The Hive until pregame warmups officially begin.
Friday night under the lights
The opener against Glasgow is the only Friday night home game of the season for Newark, with three others scheduled on Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. and the Oct. 5 Dickinson homecoming game slated for 12 p.m.
“Friday night will be an emotional night for all,” Russell said. “It is a celebration of 39 years of coaching for Butch Simpson. It's an amazing night that we renew a rivalry with a district opponent. It will be a great night to celebrate the Newark high school football tradition. I hope that our kids will rise to the occasion and play to the best of their abilities.
“As far as Friday night, football-wise, we need to win the turnover battle,” he added. “We need to make sure we control the line of scrimmage.”
Butch Simpson Field ceremony
The official naming of the field inside Hoffman Stadium to Butch Simpson Field will take place during a special ceremony scheduled to begin at 6:40 p.m. followed by kickoff against Glasgow High at 7.
Donations needed for alumni tailgate
The Newark athletic department is seeking donations for the alumni tailgate that will take place on the baseball outfield beginning at 5:30 p.m. Donations might include food, drink or financial assistant. Those people/businesses/companies interested, please contact athletic director Jason Bedford at Jason.Bedford@christina.k12.de.us or assistant athletic director Brian Corey at Brian.Corey@christina.k12.de.us.
The Buzz from the Hive will be posted online each Monday morning during the high school football season and also in Friday’s print edition. It will include some game analysis and exclusive quotes from Newark High football coach Jody Russell and select members of the team after they've had a chance to watch game film, evaluate their performance, and begin preparation for the next game.